Petr Ginz was an extraordinary young Czech-Jewish man who left a lasting impression despite a life cut tragically short. Born in 1928, he was fourteen when he was sent to the Theresienstadt Ghetto. While there, he edited Vedem, an underground magazine produced by teenage prisoners that dared to document life within the walls of the ghetto. An artist too, Ginz created around 200 pieces of artwork, one of which, pictured above, was taken into space in 2003 by Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon aboard the ill-fated STS-107 mission. Ginz also kept a vivid diary that recorded the grim realities of Nazi rule. He wrote the following entry in 1941, twelve months before he arrived at Theresienstadt. Two years after that, he was taken to Auschwitz and killed.
The Diary Entry
30. X. 1941 (Thursday)
In the morning at the Levituses; they have everything ready for the journey to Poland. Afternoon in school.
[On loose leaf with secret writing…]
1. in the afternoon there was
2. at our house one
3. lady from Kotrovice (Kotovice?) near Pilsen
4. and she talked about a big
5. attack by the English. One
6. bomb fell about ten feet
7. from the train station and made
8. there an enormous ditch, which
9. they then had to cover for a long
10. time. That sort of attack
1. happened there three times, but they never
2. hit the train station, which
3. is used to transport goods from
4. the Skoda factory.
5. The noise was so terrible,
6. that they thought they were surrounded by
7. cavalry. There was a large number
8. of aeroplanes
9. about Monday
10. some postmen saw
11. at night during the air attack a huge
12. number of aeroplanes.
Petr Ginz’s diary was originally published in Czech as Denik Meho Bratra by Trigon Publishers, edited by his sister, Chava Pressburger. English editions, titled, The Diary of Petr Ginz, 1941–1942, arrived in 2007 courtesy of Grove Atlantic in the US, and Atlantic Books in the UK. It’s a very moving diary, intensified by the inclusion of his artwork and a few facsimiles of the original handwritten diary.
- Browse issues of Vedem, the underground magazine edited by Ginz
- Another amazing book: We Are Children Just the Same: Vedem, the Secret Magazine by the Boys of Terezín
- Petr Ginz at Wikipedia
- Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon at Wikipedia
Diary entry excerpted from The Diary of Petr Ginz, 1941–1942, edited by Chava Pressburger and translated from the Czech by Elena Lappin.